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Duty evasion: Cops suspect nexus between liquor traders, excise staff
June, 18th 2011

Are some Delhi excise department officials helping businessmen earn huge profits by evading the high excise duties on select brands of whisky and beer? The question arose on Friday when a special team of Crime Branch led by ACP Katoch arrested six men who were transporting such 'un-taxed'' beer and whisky to different government liquor shops of Delhi.

"We have found that three mini trucks were carrying 730 crates of beer and whisky. There were 65 beer crates in excess of the number mentioned in the excise department list. We found 19 whisky bottles also for which no excise duty was paid. We fear that a certain stockist located on the GT Karnal Road was hand-in-glove with a section of low-level officers in running this business,'' said DCP (crime) Ashok Chand.

The modus operandi was simple. "Citing breakages and loss during transportation, they routinely managed to take out more alcohol bottles than the number for which they had paid duty to the excise department. These bottles were then sold at market prices at government shops. The balance made for huge profits and was divided among the government appointed sellers, stockists and a few excise department officers,'' said additional DCP Pramod Khuswah.

Sources said they have found that the distributor had a genuine L-1 licence to stock alcohol but used certain loopholes in the system to maximise profits. "The owner is yet to be arrested. We have also written to the excise department seeking more details about those officers who had visited the godown and checked the stocks before they got distributed across the city."

Meanwhile, after several gangs supplying fake scotch were busted in the city, it is now the time to arrest all those who have been illegally avoiding paying excise duty running into several crores. The Special Investigation Team of crime branch has arrested a courier company owner Upendra Singh (34) in this regard recently. A resident of Koderma district in Jharkhand, the accused had set up his business in the East of Kailash area for the past several months.

"The accused had rented a shop in the Sadar Bazar area of north Delhi and started a courier shop. However, he began importing expensive scotch from Italy and France to Haryana where duty fee for foreign liquor is much less as compared to south India. The accused bought liquor brands like Red Label, Blue Label and Black Dog and then packed them in thermocol before sending them as 'breakable' and 'medical equipment' to south India," said a senior SIT officer.

When contacted, DCP (crime) Ashok Chand and SIT investigator additional DCP Joy Tirkey confirmed that 348 bottles in 29 crates were recovered but refused to elaborate. Sources, however, claimed that the accused had been getting the supply with the help of some customs officials at the IGI Airport. "We have written a letter to the customs officials asking them if their stocks have been siphoned out. We are awaiting their reply,'' said a source.

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